News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Weds. April 11, 2018: A GoFundMe campaign has emerged on the fundraising platform which aims at helping the surviving teenage son of a mentally ill Caribbean-born immigrant shot to death by NYPD officers as millions around the country were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The campaign, launched by Verniiee Mathurin, aims to raise some $4,000 to help the 16-year-old son of NYPD shooting victim, Saheed ‘Sy’ Vassell.
Vassell, who was born in Jamaica and migrated with his family to Brooklyn, NY at age 6, was holding a silver metal pipe with a head on it on April 4th at Utica Avenue near the corner of Montgomery Street, in Brooklyn, when police opened fire, killing him.
His son, according to the GoFundMe campaign, is still in high school and the money raise will go towards his initial needs. It will also be used to help with funeral expenses, Mathurin stated.
NYPD officials, including Chief of Department Terence Monahan, say the two plainclothes and two uniformed officers responding to a 911 call just before 5 p.m. ET about a man pointing what was described as a “silver firearm” at people at the corner, mistook the item for a silver gun.
He said when officers arrived Vassell, 34, reportedly pointed the object at them and they opened fire, shooting a combined 10 times. Vassell was transported to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood, where he was pronounced dead.
Vassell’s mother, Lorna Vassell, has, however, called the killing of her son “unjustified.”
His father, Eric Vassell, said his son had bipolar disorder and had been admitted to the hospital multiple times in recent years, sometimes after encounters with the police.
Ironically, police shot dead Vassell’s best friend, Ortanzso (Marlon) Bovell, on a Brooklyn street in August 2008. That killing, according to family members, set Vassell on a downward spiral mentally.
Vassell was one of four siblings who lived in their parents’ two-bedroom apartment as children in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. He dropped out of high school but ultimately built a career as a welder before his mental health breakdown.
A stack of Bibles and religious books were among the items on Vassell’s bedroom dresser at his parents’ apartment, according to the New York Times. His various Bibles were placed neatly in size order, one on top of the other, with the largest at the bottom.
He reportedly routinely attended 7:30 a.m. service at St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church. Vassell, a father of a teenage son, also went to Mass at the church every Sunday.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman now also wants to know why the Jamaican immigrant, whose shooting has sparked an intense standoff between angry residents who knew Vassell and police and days of protests, was shot dead by police.
About 2,000 people marched in the streets of Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights in response to the killing of Vassell
Marchers also yelled: “FTP! F… the police!” to “How do you spell criminal? NYPD!,” as they tried to come to terms with yet another Black man shot down by police.
So far, the GoFundMe campaign has raised $240 in a day since it launched.